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Understanding Japanese Sake

I know that it is never easy to grasp and understand a drink whose terms are predominantly in a foreign language.

As sake is a complex and mysterious world with a very specific vocabulary, I share with you all the technical terms and their definitions.


General terms

  • Baiju : “Chinese” sake , from the distillery (therefore very different from Japanese sake).
  • Isshobin : 1.8L bottle.
  • Izakaya : traditional bar
  • Kikizakeshi : True sommelier sake in Japan.
  • Kura : Sake brewery.
  • Kurabito : Employees of a brewery who work in the production of Japanese sake.
  • Kuramoto : President of the kura.
  • Nihonshu : Real name of Japanese sake in Japan.
  • Nihonshudo : A measure that indicates the presence of alcohol relative to sugar in sake.
  • SakaguraSake Brewery
  • Sake : Generic term meaning " alcohol " in Japan.
  • Seimaibuai : Rice grain polishing rate. A Seimaibuai indicates the rate of remaining rice.
  • Seishu : Legal term to define Japanese "nihonshu" sake .
  • Toji : Master brewer. He is the manager in the brewery in the eyes of the president. He therefore manages the production but also the personnel.


Vocabulary by category

  • Amazake : Amazake is a generally sweet sake with very little alcohol.
  • Aruten : Sake with added alcohol.
  • Bi Happoshu : Slightly sparkling sake.
  • Daiginjo: Saké dont le taux de polissage du riz est au minimum de 50%.
  • Futsushu : "Table" sake, usually with the addition of alcohol, sometimes acids or / and sugar during the brewing process.
  • Genshu : unreduced sake, between 17 ° and 20 ° in alcohol.
  • Ginjo: Saké dont le taux de polissage du riz est au minimum de 60%.
  • Happoshu : sparkling sake.
  • Hiyaoroshi : Sake brewed in winter, kept in the brewery until fall.
  • Honjozo: Saké avec de l’alcool ajouté, donc « aruten » dont le taux de polissage de riz est au minimum de 70% sans ajout d’acides ni de sucres pendant le brassage.
  • Jizake : Sake from a small brewery, often made from local rice.
  • Junmai : Pure sake, without adding alcohol during brewing.
  • Junmai daiginjo: Saké pur, sans ajout d’alcool pendant le brassage, dont le taux de polissage du riz est au minimum de 50%.
  • Junmai ginjo: Saké pur, sans ajout d’alcool pendant le brassage, dont le taux de polissage du riz est au minimum de 60%.
  • Karakuchi : A dry sake.
  • Kijoshu : A sake in which sake is added during the brewing process, generally resulting in a sake that is smoother and sweet on the palate .
  • Kimoto : Traditional way of brewing sake, with natural lactic acids and often natural yeasts.
  • Koshu : Aged sake at least 1 year, generally 3 years or more.
  • Nama : Unpasteurized (or pasteurized once) sake.
  • Nama Chozo : Sake pasteurized once during bottling.
  • Nama Zume : Sake pasteurized once when storing the tanks.
  • Nigorizaké : Coarsely filtered sake. Often presented as unfiltered sake with a "milky" texture.
  • Shizuku : Sake whose press was done purely by gravity. A rare and traditional method.
  • Sokujo : Modern method of brewing sake, with the addition of lactic acids and most of the time, the addition of selected yeasts.
  • Yamahai : A traditional way of brewing Japanese sake, it is an alternative to kimoto .


Vocabulary by operating temperature

  • Atsu Kan: Serving temperature of a hot sake between 50 and 55 °.
  • Hana bie: Serving temperature of a cold sake between 10 and 15 °.
  • Hinata Kan: Serving temperature of a hot sake between 30 and 35 °.
  • Hitohada Kan: Serving temperature of a hot sake between 35 and 40 °.
  • Jou Kan: Serving temperature of a hot sake between 45 and 50 °.
  • Nura Kan: Serving temperature of a hot sake between 40 and 45 °.
  • Reishu: Cold sake.
  • Suzu Hie: Serving temperature of a cold sake at 15 °.
  • Tobikiri Kan: Serving temperature of a hot sake at 55 °.
  • YukiBie : Serving temperature of a cold sake at 5 °.


Vocabulary related to Japanese sake production

  • Hatsuzoe: 1st sandan jikomi day.
  • Hiire: Pasteurization.
  • Kobo: The yeast.
  • Koji: Cooked rice whose starch has been transformed into fermentable sugar by the action of "koji-kin".
  • Koji-kin: Fungus / enzyme that allows saccharification.
  • Moromi: Fermentation tank that contains koji, water, cooked rice and shubo.
  • Nakazoe: 3rd sandan jikomi day.
  • Nuka: Powder obtained from polishing the husk of rice.
  • Odori: 2rd sandan jikomi day.
  • Sakamai: Rice grown especially for Japanese sake. It popularly designates varieties whose physical characteristics distinguish them from shokumai.
  • Sandan jikomi: Process which consists in increasing the volume of the tanks gradually to facilitate fermentation.
  • Shokumai: "Table" rice that is eaten. Can also be used to make sake.
  • Shubo/Moto: Mixture highly concentrated in yeast.
  • Tomezoe: 4rd sandan jikomi day.


Accessories vocabulary

  • Masu: Wooden cup in which sake can be poured.
  • Ochoko / Choko : Small traditional ceramics in which sake is consumed

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